California county board fires Alameda Health trustees weeks after strike

The Alameda County board of supervisors has fired members of the board of trustees who oversee Oakland, Calif.-based Alameda Health System, according to the East Bay Times.

The move came Oct. 20 after a public hearing during which employees and union representatives aired complaints related to the health system and how it is managed, the publication reported. 

It also follows a five-day strike by Alameda Health System represented by SEIU 1021, California Nurses Association, and International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union 6. Union members say they have concerns about understaffing as well as health and safety issues for patients and workers. They also allege bad faith bargaining and unfair labor practices.

“Unfortunately, over the last two years, the AHS administration has eroded trust and damaged the system’s relationships with its employees and partners, including labor representatives, medical staff and the county,” Richard Valle, president of the board of supervisors and Wilma Chan, member of the board of supervisors, wrote in a letter to trustees. The said that the public health system incurred about $10 million in unbudgeted expenses due to the strike.

“This was hugely disappointing to us because we believe the strike was avoidable and unnecessary,” Mr. Valle and Ms. Chan stated in the letter.

Hospital administrators and Alameda Health System vendors were complimentary of the health system’s services Oct. 20 as well as the leadership of CEO Delvecchio Finley, according to the East Bay Times. However, trustees ultimately voted for firing trustees and reviewing system governance.

Alameda Health System trustees may submit a letter by Nov. 6 appealing their dismissal, according to the East Bay Times. The publication reported that the county board of supervisors will review applications, and dismissals will take effect Nov. 30. The board of supervisors is also taking resumes from people wanting to become trustees, which are due before Nov. 6.  A new board is expected to be in place by December.

Alameda Health System is a safety-net public health system that includes community-based hospitals Alameda (Calif.) Hospital and San Leandro Hospital. The system also includes Oakland-based Highland Hospital, a regional trauma center and teaching hospital; John George Psychiatric Hospital, an acute and emergency care facility in San Leandro; Fairmont Hospital, an acute rehabilitation hospital and skilled nursing facility in San Leandro; and four neighborhood-based community wellness centers in Oakland, Newark and Hayward, Calif.

As part of the dismissal of the trustees, a board of supervisors agenda item says supervisors are examining various governance models for Alameda Health System and have various goals in mind including: improving the direct accountability of the CEO and executive leadership team to trustees for operational and financial progress; implementing a collaborative approach to working with employees and key partners; and transparency by health system administration about problems facing the system.

The board of supervisors said they expect to meet with stakeholders early in December or January and have a recommendation on governance change no later than March.

Read the full report here

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